The Long, Twisted, and Bizarre History of the Trump-Russia ScandalGet the Full StoryThe Trump-Russia scandal with all its bizarre and troubling twists and turns has become a controversy that is defining the Trump presidency. The FBI recently disclosed that since July it has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia, as part of its probe of Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election. Citing "US officials," CNN reported that the bureau has gathered information suggesting coordination between Trump campaign officials and suspected Russian operatives. Each day seems to bring a new revelation and a new Trump administration denial or deflection. It's tough to keep track of all the relevant events, pertinent ties, key statements, and unraveling claims. So we've compiled what we know so far into the timeline below, which covers Trump's 30-year history with Russia. We will continue to update the timeline regularly as events unfold. Click here to go directly to the most recent entry. Please email us at scoop motherjones.com if you have a tip or we've left anything out.
1986: Donald Trump is seated next to Russian Ambassador Yuri Dubinin at a lunch organized by Leonard Lauder, the son of cosmetics scion Este Lauder, who at the time is running her cosmetics business. "One thing led to another, and now I'm talking about building a large luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin" in partnership with the Soviet government, Trump later writes in his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal.
January 1987: Intourist, the Soviet agency for international tourism, expresses interest in meeting with Trump.
July 1987: Trump and his then-wife, Ivana, fly to Moscow to tour potential hotel sites. Trump spokesman Dan Klores later tells the Washington Post that during the trip, Trump "met with a lot of the economic and financial advisers in the Politburo" but did not see Mikhail Gorbachev, then the USSR's leader.
December 1, 1988: The Soviet Mission to the United Nations announces that Gorbachev is tentatively scheduled to tour Trump Tower while the Soviet leader is visiting New York and that Trump plans to show him a swimming pool inside a 19 million apartment.
December 7, 1988: Trump welcomes the wrong Gorbachev to New York shaking hands with a renowned Gorbachev impersonator outside his hotel.
December 8, 1988: President Ronald Reagan invites Donald and Ivana Trump to a state dinner, where Trump meets the real Gorbachev. According to Trump's spokesman, the real estate mogul had a lengthy discussion with the Soviet president about economics and hotels.
January 1989: For 200,000, Trump signs a group of Soviet cyclists for the Albany-to-Atlantic City road race, dubbed the Tour de Trump, that will take place that May.
November 5, 1996: Media reports note that Trump is trying to partner with US tobacco company Brooke Group to build a hotel in Moscow.
January 23, 1997: Trump meets with Alexander Lebed, a retired Soviet general then running to be president of Russia, at Trump Tower. Trump says they discussed his plans to build "something major" in Moscow. Lebed reportedly expressed his support, joking that his only objection would be that "the highest skyscraper in the world cannot be built next to the Kremlin. We cannot allow anyone spitting from the roof of the skyscraper on the Kremlin."
2000: Michael Caputo, who later runs Trump's primary campaign in New York during the 2016 race, secures a PR contract with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to burnish Russian President Vladimir Putin's image in the United States.
2005: Trump reportedly signs a development deal with Bayrock Group, a real estate firm founded by a former Soviet official from Kazakhstan, to develop a hotel in Moscow and agrees to partner on a hotel tower in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Trump works on the projects with Bayrock managing partner Felix Sater, a Russian American businessman. The New York Times will later publish a story revealing Sater's criminal record, which includes charges of racketeering and assault.
September 19: Sater and the former Soviet official who founded Bayrock, Tevfik Arif, stand next to Trump at the launch party for Trump SoHo, a hotel-condominium project co-financed by Bayrock.
November 22: Trump Vodka debuts in Russia, at the Moscow Millionaire's Fair. As part of its new marketing campaign, Trump Vodka also unveils an ad featuring Trump, tigers, the Kremlin, and Vladimir Lenin.
At the Millionaires' Fair, Trump meets Sergey Millian, an American citizen from Belarus who is the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA RACC . Subsequently, Millian later recounted, "We met at his office in New York, where he introduced me to his right-hand man Michael Cohen. He is Trump's main lawyer, all contracts go through him. Subsequently, a contract was signed with me to promote one of their real estate projects in Russia and the CIS. You can say I was their exclusive broker." According to Millian, he helped Trump "study the Moscow market" for potential real estate investments.
December 17: The New York Times publishes a story about Felix Sater's controversial past, which includes prison time for stabbing a man with a margarita glass stem during a bar fight and a guilty plea in a Mafia-linked racketeering case. The article characterizes Sater as a Trump business associate who is promoting several potential projects in partnership with Trump.
December 19: In a deposition, Trump is asked about his plans to build a hotel in Moscow. He says, "It was a Trump International Hotel and Tower. It would be a nonexclusive deal, so it would not have precluded me from doing other deals in Moscow, which was very important to me."
April: Trump announces he is partnering with Russian oligarch Pavel Fuks to license his name for luxury high-rises in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. But Fuks ultimately balks at Trump's price, which the Russian business newspaper Kommersant estimated could have been 200 million or more.
July: Billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch, buys a Palm Beach mansion owned by Trump for 95 million, despite Florida's crashing real estate market and an appraisal on the house for much less. Trump bought the property for 41.35 million four years earlier. Rybolovlev goes on to give conflicting explanations for why he bought the property.
September 15: Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a real estate conference in Manhattan, where he says "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets& ;We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
Date unknown: Trump's team reportedly invites Sergei Millian to meet Trump at a horse race in Florida, where, according to Millian, they sit in Trump's private suite at the Gulfstream race track in Miami. "Trump team, they realized that we have a lot of connection with Russian investors. And they noticed that we bring a lot of investors from Russia," Millian told ABC News in a 2016 interview. "And they needed my assistance, yes, to sell properties and sell some of the assets to Russian investors." Millian says that following this meeting with Trump, he works as a broker for the Trump Hollywood condominium project in Miami, selling a "nice percentage" of the building's 200 units to Russian investors.
May 10: Jody Kriss, a former finance director at Bayrock, files a lawsuit against the company. The suit alleges that Bayrock financed Trump SoHo with mysterious cash from Kazhakstan and Russia and calls the building "a Russian mob project." The complaint notes that "there is no evidence that Trump took any part in" Bayrock's interactions with questionable Russian financing sources.
Date unknown: Bayrock's Sater becomes a senior adviser to Trump, according to his LinkedIn profile. Though Trump later claims he would not recognize Sater, Sater has a Trump Organization email address, phone number, and business cards.
May 29: Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star and the son of billionaire real estate developer Aras Agalarov, releases a music video for his song "Amor." In the video, he pursues Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, through dark, empty alleys with a flashlight. Following the video's release, representatives of Miss Universe, which Trump at the time owns, discuss with the Agalarovs holding the next pageant in Moscow. The Agalarovs persuade them to host Miss Universe at a concert hall they own on the outskirts of Moscow.
June 18: Following the Miss USA contest in Las Vegas, Trump announces that he will bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.
The Miss Universe Pageant will be broadcast live from MOSCOW, RUSSIA on November 9th. A big deal that will bring our countries together!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump June 19, 2013
He also wonders if Putin will attend the pageant, and if Putin might "become my new best friend?"
Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump June 19, 2013
June 21: Vladimir Putin awards Rex Tillerson, now Trump's secretary of state, with Russia's Order of Friendship. As the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson had developed a long-standing relationship with the head of Russia's state-owned oil company, Rosneft, dating back to 1998.
October 17: In an interview with David Letterman, Trump says, "I've done a lot of business with the Russians," noting that he once met Putin.
November 5: In a deposition, Trump is asked about a 2007 New York Times story outlining the controversial past of Felix Sater. Trump replies that he barely knows Sater and would have trouble recognizing him if they were in the same room.
November 8: Trump, in Russia for the Miss Universe pageant, meets with more than a dozen of Russia's top businessmen at Nobu, a restaurant 15 minutes from the Kremlin. The group includes Herman Gref, the CEO of the state-controlled Sberbank PJSC, Russia's biggest bank. The meeting at Nobu is organized by Gref who regularly meets with Putin and Aras Agalarov, who owns the Nobu franchise in Moscow.
- According to a source connected to the Agalarovs, Putin asks his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, to call Trump in advance of the Miss Universe show to set up an in-person meeting for the Russian president and Trump. Peskov reportedly passes on the message and expresses Putin's admiration for Trump. Their plans to meet never come to fruition because of scheduling changes for both Trump and Putin.
November 9: Trump spends the morning shooting a music video with Emin Agalarov.
-The Miss Universe pageant takes place near Moscow. A notorious Russian mobster, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, attends the event as a VIP, strolling down the event's red carpet within minutes of Trump. At the time, Tokhtakhounov was under federal indictment in the United States for his alleged participation in an illegal gambling ring once run out of Trump Tower. Emin Agalarov performs two songs at the pageant.
- MSNBC's Thomas Roberts asks Trump if he has a relationship with Putin. Trump replies, "I do have a relationship and I can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today."
November 11: Trump tweets his appreciation to Aras Agalarov, the Russian billionaire with whom he partnered to host Miss Universe, also complimenting Emin's performance at the pageant and declaring plans for a Trump tower in Moscow.
AgalarovAras I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump November 11, 2013
November 12: Trump tells Real Estate Weekly that Miss Universe Russia provided a networking opportunity: "Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room," he says. The same day, two developers who helped build the luxury Trump SoHo hotel meet with the Agalarovs to discuss replicating the hotel in Moscow. Aras Agalarov, whose real estate company secured multiple contracts from the Kremlin and who once received a medal of honor from Putin, later claims he and Trump signed a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow following the pageant. The deal never moved past preliminary discussions.
November 20: Emin Agalarov releases a new music video featuring Trump and the 2013 Miss Universe contestants.
March 6: Trump gives a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and boasts of getting a gift from Putin when he was in Russia for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. "You know, I was in Moscow a couple months ago, I own the Miss Universe pageant, and they treated me so great," Trump said. "Putin even sent me a present, beautiful present, with a beautiful note."
May 27: At a National Press Club luncheon, Trump says, "I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer."
September: FBI special agent Adrian Hawkins contacts the Democratic National Committee, saying that one of its computer systems has been compromised by a cyberespionage group linked to the Russian government. He speaks to a help desk technician who does a quick check of the DNC systems for evidence of a cyber intrusion. In the next several weeks, Hawkins calls the DNC back repeatedly, but his calls are not returned, in part because the tech support contractor who took Hawkins' call does not know whether he is a real agent. The FBI does not dispatch an agent to visit the DNC in person and does not make efforts to contact more senior DNC officials.
September 21: On a conservative radio show, Trump says, "I was in Moscow not so long ago for an event that we had, a big event, and many of Putin's people were there& ;I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can't go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary."
September 29: Trump praises Putin during an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly: "I will tell you, in terms of leadership he is getting an 'A,' and our president is not doing so well."
November 10: At a Republican presidential primary debate, Trump says of Putin that he "got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates."
November 11: The Associated Press, Time, and other media outlets report that Trump and Putin were never in the same studio. Trump was interviewed in New York, and Putin was interviewed in Moscow.
December 10: Retired General Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who was reportedly forced out in 2014, attends and is paid 30,000 to speak at Russia Today's 10th anniversary dinner in Moscow, where he is seated next to Putin.
December 17: Putin praises Trump in his year-end press conference, saying that he is "very talented" and that "he is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level relations, a deeper level of relations with Russia& ;How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it." Trump calls the praise "a great honor" from "a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond." He adds, "I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other toward defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect."
February 17: At a rally in South Carolina, Trump says of Putin, "I have no relationship with him, other than that he called me a genius."
March 21: In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump identifies Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisers.
March 30: Bloomberg Businessweek reports on Page's past advising of Gazprom, Russia's state-owned gas company. Page tells Bloomberg Businessweek that after Trump named him as an adviser, positive notes from his Russian contacts filled his inbox. "There's a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation" in terms of easing US sanctions on Russia, Page explained.
April 26: The Washington Post reports that Paul Manafort, then Trump's convention manager who would later be promoted to campaign chairman , has long-standing ties to pro-Putin Ukrainian officials. Between 2007 and 2012, Manafort worked as a political consultant to Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russia part. He helped Yanukovych remake his image following the Orange Revolution and mount a successful bid for the Ukrainian presidency.
April and May: The DNC's IT department contacts the FBI about unusual computer activity and hires cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to investigate. In May, Crowdstrike determines that hackers affiliated with Russian intelligence infiltrated the DNC's network.
June 14: The Washington Post reports that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC's computer network.
June 15: Guccifer 2.0, an online persona that US intelligence officials link to Russia's military intelligence service, takes credit for the DNC hack and posts hacked DNC documents. Guccifer will go on to post additional hacked documents from the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee DCCC , and purportedly from the Clinton Foundation at least nine more times in the months leading up to the election. Some reports contest that the documents came from the Clinton Foundation itself.
July 7: Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page criticizes US sanctions against Russia during a speech at the New Economic School in Moscow. Politico later reports that Page asked for and received permission from Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to speak at the Moscow event.
July 18: The Washington Post reports that the Trump campaign worked with members of the Republican Party platform committee in advance of the Republican National Convention to soften the platform's position related to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The platform reportedly included a provision that promised to provide arms to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, but Trump campaign staffers encouraged the committee to jettison this language.
- Trump surrogate Sen. Jeff Sessions meets with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, on the sidelines of a Republican National Convention event put on by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
July 18-21: Trump campaign staffers Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, the campaign's director of national security, also meet with the Russian ambassador during the convention.
July 22: WikiLeaks publishes nearly 20,000 hacked DNC emails, in advance of the Democratic National Convention. Some of the emails indicate that DNC officials favored Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders.
July 24: Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, appears on ABC's This Week, where he is asked whether there are connections between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime. Manafort says, "No, there are not. And you know, there's no basis to it."
July 25: Trump tweets about the hacked DNC emails:
The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written stupid , because Putin likes me
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump July 25, 2016
July 26: US intelligence agencies tell the White House they now have "high confidence" that the Russian government was behind the DNC hack. This is reported by media outlets but not publicly confirmed by intelligence agencies.
- In an interview with NBC News, Obama says hacks are being investigated by the FBI, but that "experts have attributed this to the Russians." He notes, "What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems. Not just government systems, but private systems. But you know, what the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that I can't say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin."
July 27: Trump encourages Russia to hack Clinton's emails, saying during a news conference, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you'll probably be rewarded mightily by our press." At the same event, he declares, "I never met Putin. I don't know who Putin is."
July 31: On ABC's This Week, Trump again denies knowing Putin, saying, "I have no relationship with him." Trump also denies that his campaign played any role in getting the Republican Party to soften its platform on arming Ukraine.
- On Meet the Press, Manafort denies that he or anyone within the Trump campaign worked to change the platform.
- Sen. Jeff Sessions defends Trump's efforts to cultivate a friendship with Russia during an appearance on CNN: "Donald Trump is right. We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that's putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities."
Late July: The FBI launches a counterintelligence investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia. There is no public confirmation of this investigation at the time, but FBI Director James Comey later confirms the investigation in a March 2017 hearing before the House intelligence committee.
August 5: Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, asked by the Washington Post about Carter Page's July speech in Moscow, downplays his role as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, saying he "does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign."
- Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone writes an article for Breitbart in which he denies that Russia was behind the DNC hack. He argues that Guccifer 2.0 has no ties to Russia.
August 6: NPR confirms the Trump campaign's involvement in encouraging the Republican Party to soften its platform's pro-Ukraine position on Russia's annexation of Crimea.
August 14: The New York Times reports that Ukraine's anti-corruption bureau has discovered Manafort's name on a list of "black accounts" compiled by ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Putin ally. The tallies show undisclosed payments designated for Manafort totaling 12.7 million between 2007 and 2012, the years that Manafort worked for Yanukovych as a political consultant. Manafort denies receiving any illicit payments.
August 17: Trump receives his first classified intelligence briefing as the GOP nominee for president. He brings Michael Flynn with him to the meeting, which includes discussion of the intelligence community's assessment that Russia was interfering in the US election.August 19: Manafort resigns from the Trump campaign.
August 21: Roger Stone tweets:
Trust me, it will soon the Podesta's time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary
Roger Stone RogerJStoneJr August 21, 2016
August 29: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev. pens a letter to the FBI, asking the bureau to investigate the possibility of election-tampering by Russia in the upcoming presidential election. "I have recently become concerned that the threat of the Russian government tampering in our presidential election is more extensive than widely known," Reid writes. "The prospect of a hostile government actively seeking to undermine our free and fair elections represents one of the gravest threats to our democracy since the Cold War and it is critical for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use every resource available to investigate this matter thoroughly."
August 29: Yahoo News reports that the FBI has found evidence that the state voter systems in Arizona and Illinois were breached by hackers possibly linked to the Russian government.
August 30: House Democrats send a letter to FBI Director James Comey calling on the bureau to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and any impact these ties may have had on the hacking of the DNC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
September 5: The Washington Post reports that US intelligence agencies, including the FBI, are investigating possible plans by Russia to disrupt the presidential election.
- Putin and Obama have a tense meeting at the G20 summit in China, where they discuss Syria, Ukraine, and cybersecurity. In December, Obama will tell reporters that he confronted Putin about Russia's alleged interference in the election and told him to "cut it out."
September 7: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggests publicly for the first time that Russia may be responsible for the DNC hack, pointing to Obama's July statement that "experts have attributed this to the Russians." Clapper adds that "the Russians hack our systems all the time."
September 8: Trump responds to Clapper's comments in an interview with RT, the English language arm of a Russian state-controlled media conglomerate, casting doubt on whether Russian hackers were responsible for the DNC hack. "I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out," Trump says. "Who knows, but I think it's pretty unlikely."
- Jeff Sessions meets with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his Senate office. He is the only one of the Senate armed services committee's 26 members to meet with the ambassador in 2016. The meeting occurs days after Putin and Obama's tense G20 meeting.
September 22: Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. , vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff D-Calif. , the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, release a statement about Russia's interference in the US election. "Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election," they said. "We believe that orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from the very senior levels of the Russian government."
September 23: Yahoo News reports that US intelligence officials are investigating whether Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page discussed the possible lifting of US sanctions on Russia and other topics during private communications with top Russian officials, including a Putin aide and the current executive chairman of Rosneft, who is on the Treasury Department's US sanctions list. Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller claims that Page "has no role" in the Trump campaign and says that "we are not aware of any of his activities, past or present."
September 25: In a CNN interview, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway denies that Page is affiliated with the Trump campaign. "He's certainly not part of the campaign that I'm running," she said.
In response to a question about Page's possible connections to Russian officials, Conway says, "If he's doing that, he's certainly not doing it with the permission or knowledge of the campaign," She adds, "He is certainly not authorized to do that."
September 26: Page takes a leave from the campaign.
- During the first presidential debate, Clinton brings up the allegations that Russia orchestrated the DNC hack. Trump responds: "I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?"
October 1: Roger Stone tweets:
Wednesday HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.
Roger Stone RogerJStoneJr October 2, 2016
October 3: Roger Stone tweets:
I have total confidence that wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp
Roger Stone RogerJStoneJr October 3, 2016
October 7: US intelligence agencies issue a joint release saying they are "confident" the Russian government interfered in the US election, in part by directing the leaking of hacked emails belonging to political institutions like the DNC. This is the first official government confirmation that Russia orchestrated the hacking and leaks during the election.
-Late on Friday afternoon, a leaked video of Trump boasting of groping and kissing women without their consent is published by the Washington Post. Half an hour later, WikiLeaks begins to release several thousand hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
October 9: During the second presidential debate, Clinton accuses Trump of benefiting from Russian hacking and other interference in the election. Trump responds, "I don't know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together, as an example. But I don't know Putin."
October 11: The Obama White House promises a "proportional" response following the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC and other groups.
October 12: Sources briefed on the FBI examination of Russian hacking say the agency suspects that Russian intelligence agencies are behind the hacking of the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and a Florida election systems vendor.
- Roger Stone says he has "back-channel communications" with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, through a mutual friend.
October 19: During the final presidential debate, Trump casts doubt on the US intelligence community's conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the election. He also denies having ever met or spoken to Putin, despite his previous statements to the contrary. "I never met Putin," Trump says. " I have nothing to do with Putin. I've never spoken to him."
October 30: The plane belonging to Dmitri Rybolovlev, the Russian oligarch who purchased Trump's Florida mansion in 2008, is in Las Vegas the same day Trump holds a rally there.
- Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid D-Nev. sends a letter to FBI Director James Comey calling on him to release what Reid calls "explosive" information about Trump's Russia ties. "In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government," Reid writes. "The public has a right to know this information."
October 31: Mother Jones reports that a veteran of a Western intelligence service has given the FBI memos saying that Russia had mounted a yearslong operation to co-opt or cultivate Trump and that the Kremlin had gathered compromising information on Trump during his visits to Moscow that could be used for blackmail. The story notes that the FBI has requested more information from this source.
Date unknown: Prior to Election Day, Flynn contacts Kislyak. It's unknown how often the pair communicated or what they talked about.
November 1: NBC News reports that the FBI is conducting a preliminary inquiry into Paul Manafort's business ties to Russia and Ukraine. Manafort tells NBC, "None of it is true." He denies having dealings with Putin or the Russian government and says any allegations to the contrary are "Democratic propaganda."
November 3: Dmitri Rybolovlev's plane lands in Charlotte, North Carolina, about 90 minutes before Trump's plane lands at the same airport in advance of a Trump rally to be held that day in nearby Concord.
November 9: Trump wins the presidential election.
November 10: Interfax news agency reports that the Russian government had contact with the Trump campaign during the campaign. Referring to Trump campaign staffers, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, says, "A number of them maintained contacts with Russian representatives" in the Russian Foreign Ministry. And he adds, "There were contacts. We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign."
- Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells the Associated Press that Russian foreign policy experts have been in contact with the Trump campaign. "And our experts, our specialists on the U.S., on international affairs& ;Of course they are constantly speaking to their counterparts here, including those from Mr. Trump's group," Peskov said.
November 11: Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks tells the Associated Press that the allegations of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials are false. "It never happened," she says. "There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign."
November 16: The director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, implies that he believes Russia interfered in the US election. In response to a question about WikiLeaks hacks during the election, Rogers says, "This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect."
November 17: Rep. Elijah Cummings D-Md. , the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, sends a letter to Rep. Jason Chaffetz R-Utah , the committee's top Republican, calling for an investigation into Russia's interference in the election.
November 23: The Wall Street Journal reports that in October 2016, Donald Trump Jr. spoke at a meeting of a French think tank run by a couple, Fabien Baussart and Randa Kassis, who have "worked closely with Russia to try to end the conflict" in Syria. Kassis is the leader of a Syrian group endorsed by the Kremlin that seeks to cooperate with Moscow ally President Bashar al-Assad.
November 29: Seven members of the Senate intelligence committee write a letter to Obama asking him to declassify relevant intelligence on Russia's role in the election.
Early December: Two Russian intelligence officers who worked on cyber operations and a Russian computer security expert are arrested in Moscow and charged with treason for providing information to the United States. There is no indication of whether the arrests are related to the Russian hacking of the 2016 campaign.
December 8: Carter Page, no longer a foreign policy adviser to Trump, visits Moscow, where he tells a state-run news agency that he plans to meet with "business leaders and thought leaders."
December 9: The Washington Post reports that a secret CIA assessment concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win the presidency. In response, the Trump transition team issues a statement attempting to discredit the CIA's conclusion: "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago& ;It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"
December 11: In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Trump again casts doubt on the US intelligence community's findings on Russia's interference in the election. "They have no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody," Trump says of the CIA's findings. "It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea."
December 13: Trump names Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, as his secretary of state nominee. Tillerson has long-standing ties to Russia and Putin. Tillerson helped Exxon cut several oil-drilling deals with Rosneft, Russia's state-owned oil company, and in 2013 Putin awarded Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship.
December date unknown : Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. Kislyak was not caught on tape entering the building, suggesting that he may have been brought in through a back entrance.
December 29: Obama announces sanctions against Russia for the country's alleged interference in the presidential election. The measure includes the ejection of 35 Russian diplomats from the United States; the closure of Cold War-era Russian compounds in Long Island, New York, and in Maryland; and sanctions against the GRU and the FSB Russian intelligence agencies , four employees of those agencies, and three companies that worked with the GRU.
- Michael Flynn holds five phone calls with Kislyak, during which they at some point discuss US sanctions on Russia. White House press secretary Sean Spicer later claims falsely that they held just one call, in which they merely discussed "logistical information."
January 6: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases a report saying that the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA believe there is evidence that Russia actively tried to help Trump win the election. They also conclude with "high confidence" that Russian military intelligence used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and a website called DCLeaks.com to release the hacked documents and that Russia's military intelligence branch channeled hacked material to WikiLeaks.
January 10: CNN reports that Obama and Trump received classified briefings that covered allegations contained in the Russia-Trump memos authored by the Western intelligence official that Russian intelligence possessed compromising material on Trump.
- BuzzFeed publishes the Trump-Russia memos in full.
- Trump calls the Russia memos story "#fakenews" on Twitter.
'BuzzFeed Runs Unverifiable Trump-Russia Claims' #FakeNews https: t.co d6daCFZHNh
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump January 11, 2017
- During his Senate confirmation hearing, Jeff Sessions responds to questions about alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia by saying, "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians."
- FBI Director James Comey testifies at a Senate intelligence committee hearing. He is asked whether the FBI is investigating Trump campaign staffers' ties to Russia. Comey declines to answer the question.
January 11: Trump again denies the allegations in the Russia memos in a series of tweets. Also in reference to the Russia allegations, he asks, "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is "A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE." Very unfair!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump January 11, 2017
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump January 11, 2017
I win an election easily, a great "movement" is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump January 11, 2017
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump January 11, 2017
- At his first news conference since being elected, Trump acknowledges that Russia was behind the hacks, saying, "As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people."
January 13: Trump again calls claims about his Russian connections "fake news." His tweet refers to a comment by a Kremlin spokesman earlier in the month that called the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the US election "absolutely unfounded."
Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans - FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably...
Donld J. Trump realDonaldTrump January 13, 2017
January 15: In an appearance on Face the Nation, Vice President-elect Mike Pence says Michael Flynn told him that he did not discuss US sanctions during his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
January 19: The New York Times reports that the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, and the Treasury Department's financial crimes unit are investigating Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone for their possible contacts with Russia during the campaign. As part of their investigation, the Times reports, these agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions.
January 20: Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.
January 23: White House press secretary Sean Spicer holds his first White House press briefing. He insists that national security adviser Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador included no discussion of US sanctions.
January 24: The FBI interviews Flynn about his phone conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn reportedly denies having discussed US sanctions on Russia.
January 26: Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, informs White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had discussed US sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador, despite Flynn's claims to the contrary in his FBI interview.
- McGahn informs Trump of Yates' report that Flynn had a conversation with the Russian ambassador in December that included a discussion about US sanctions. This reveals that Flynn misled Pence when he said he had not had substantive conversations with the Russian ambassador.
January date unknown : Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, meets at a Manhattan hotel with Felix Sater and a pro-Putin Ukrainian lawmaker to discuss a potential peace plan for Ukraine and Russia. The New York Times reports that Cohen delivered this plan to Flynn. Cohen confirms he met with Sater and the Ukrainian lawmaker, but denies that they discussed a Ukraine-Russia peace plan or that he delivered such a plan to Flynn or the White House.
February 7: Trump tweets:
I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy - yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump February 7, 2017
February 8: In an interview with the Washington Post, Flynn denies discussing US sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
February 9: A spokesman for Flynn softens the national security adviser's denial, telling the Washington Post that "while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up."
February 10: Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump says he is not aware of reports that Flynn has discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador. He has in fact been aware of Flynn's contacts with Kislyak since late January.
- Dmitri Rybolovlev's plane lands in Miami, the day before Trump is set to arrive at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend.
February 13: Flynn resigns following reports that the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn had misled senior members of the administration, including Pence, about whether he discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
February 14: The New York Times reports that American intelligence and law enforcement agencies have intercepted repeated communications between Trump campaign officials and other Trump associates and senior Russian intelligence and government officials.
- Spicer denies that Trump or his campaign had any contacts with Russia during the election.
February 15: During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump does not answer a question about potential connections between his campaign and Russia during the election. He blames Flynn's ouster on leaks. This is a different position than the one taken by the White House previously: that Flynn was asked to resign because he misled Pence about his communication with the Russian ambassador.
- Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff, asks the FBI to publicly knock-down media reports that the US intelligence community was investigating the Trump campaign's alleged contacts with Russia intelligence operatives during the election. The FBI refuses to do so. The administration then enlists the help of the intelligence community and several members of Congress, including Sen. Richard Burr R-N.C. and Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif. the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees, both of which are conducting investigations into Trump's Russia connections to call media outlets to counter stories about contacts between Trump staffers and Russians.
- In an appearance on PBS Newshour, Carter Page denies that he had any meetings with Russian officials in 2016.
February 16: At a news conference, Trump is asked whether anyone in his campaign had been in contact with Russia. He replies, "Nobody that I know of." He also denies having any contact with Russia, saying, "Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia."
February 17: FBI Director James Comey meets with members of the Senate intelligence committee. That same day, the committee sends letters to more than a dozen agencies, groups, and individuals, asking them to preserve all communications related to the committee's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
February 19: During an interview on Fox News, Priebus denies that the Trump camp had any contact with Russia.
February 28: Republicans on the House judiciary committee vote down a Democrat-sponsored resolution that would have required the Trump administration to disclose information about Trump's ties to Russia and his possible financial conflicts of interest .
- White House lawyers ask Trump staffers to preserve any materials related to possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.
March 1: The Washington Post reports that Jeff Sessions, Trump's attorney general, did not disclose in his January confirmation hearings that he twice met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. Sessions had said during a confirmation hearing that "I did not have communications with the Russians." Sessions' Justice Department spokeswoman says Sessions met with Kislyak in his capacity as a senator on the armed services committee, and that the question during the confirmation hearing was about the Trump campaign's Russian connections.
March 2: Facing criticism over the revelations that he withheld information regarding his meetings with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearings, Sessions announces that he will recuse himself from any investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- On NBC, Sessions denies that he ever discussed the Trump campaign with Russians. "I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign and those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false," he said. "And I don't have anything else to say about that."
- Alex Oronov, a Ukrainian billionaire businessman who was connected by marriage to Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime lawyer and associate, dies unexpectedly. Oronov's daughter was married to Cohen's brother. Oronov reportedly set up a January 2017 meeting between Cohen and Russian officials to discuss a possible "peace plan" between Russia and Ukraine that would have formalized Putin's control over Crimea. The New York Times reported that this peace proposal was hand-delivered to Michael Flynn prior to his forced resignation.
- The White House acknowledges that Jared Kushner and Flynn met with Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower in December. The meeting was first reported by The New Yorker.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump Jr. was paid at least 50,000 for his October 2016 appearance before a French think tank run by a couple allied with Russia on ending Syrian conflict.
- USA Today reports that two other Trump advisers, Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, met with Sergey Kislyak during the Republican National Convention.
- In an MSNBC appearance, Page says he doesn't deny that this meeting took place.
- J.D. Gordon tells CNN that during the Republican National Convention, he did in fact push to alter the Republican platform's draft policy on Ukraine to align it with Trump's views on Russia.
March 3: Trump dresses down senior staffers in a meeting in the Oval Office over Jeff Sessions' recusal and over news reports connecting the Trump administration to Russia.
March 4: Without providing any proof, Trump alleges that President Obama wiretapped his phones during the election.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump March 4, 2017
March 5: Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the White House is requesting that the congressional intelligence committees examine Trump's allegations that Obama wiretapped Trump during the campaign as part of their investigation into Russia's election activity. Spicer also says the White House will not comment further on the wiretapping allegation until the completion of this investigation.
March 10: Trump adviser Roger Stone acknowledges that during the 2016 campaign he exchanged direct messages on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that US intelligence agencies believe was a front for Russian intelligence. Stone claims the conversations were so "perfunctory" and "banal" that he had forgotten about them.
March 15: Asked about his decision to accuse Obama of wiretapping him without evidence, Trump hints that information will soon emerge to back up his claims. "I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks."
March 20: The House intelligence committee holds its first public hearing on its investigation into Russia's interference in the US election. Responding to the committee's questioning, FBI Director James Comey confirms that the bureau has since July been "investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts." Both Comey and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers dismiss Trump's claim that Obama wiretapped him during the election.
- In response to questions from Mother Jones' David Corn, Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif. , chair of the House intelligence committee, tells reporters he has never heard of key figures connected to the Trump-Russia scandal, including Carter Page and Roger Stone.
- Spicer tells reporters that Paul Manafort, who ran Trump's campaign from April 2016 to August 2016, "played a limited role" on the campaign "for a very limited amount of time."
March 22: The Associated Press reports that, starting in the mid-2000s, Manafort worked on behalf of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to "influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government." The news service quotes a 2005 strategy memo authored by Manafort, who writes, "We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success." Manafort denies working on behalf of Russian interests.
- Mother Jones reports that Manafort tried to help Deripaska secure a visa to the United States. The aluminum magnate had been denied entry to the United States at various points because of suspected ties to the Russian mafia.
- Rep. Devin Nunes, without briefing Rep. Adam Schiff D-Calif. , his Democratic counterpart on the intelligence committee, or other members of the panel, calls a surprise press conference, announcing that he has seen evidence that the intelligence community "incidentally" picked up communications by Trump transition officials in the course of lawful surveillance on foreign parties. He claims that the names of Trump officials were "unmasked" and that "none of this surveillance was related to Russia."
- In a remarkable departure from intelligence committee norms, Nunes visits the White House to brief Trump on his findings. The president later says he feels "somewhat" vindicated by the information Nunes shared.
- Schiff releases a statement expressing "grave concerns" about Nunes' actions and casting doubt about whether a "credible investigation" can be conducted under these circumstances.
Today, Chairman Nunes shared information with WH still withheld from our committee. He cannot conduct a credible investigation this way. pic.twitter.com wwrp7H7JWC
Adam Schiff RepAdamSchiff March 22, 2017
- Schiff tells MSNBC's Chuck Todd that there is "more than circumstantial evidence now" of potential collusion between Trump officials and Russian operatives.
- CNN, citing "US officials," reports that the "FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign."
March 23: The Associated Press reports that US Treasury Department agents have obtained records of "offshore financial transactions" by Paul Manafort, in conjunction into an ongoing anti-corruption investigation into his work in Eastern Europe. According to the new service, "As part of their investigation, U.S. officials were expected to look into millions of dollars' worth of wire transfers to Manafort. In one case, the AP found that a Manafort-linked company received a 1 million payment in October 2009 from a mysterious firm through the Bank of Cyprus. The 1 million payment left the account the same day split in two, roughly 500,000 disbursements to accounts with no obvious owner."
- Trump tweets:
Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!
Donald J. Trump realDonaldTrump March 23, 2017
- Rep. Nunes apologizes to Democratic members of the intelligence committee for failing to brief them on the new information he obtained and instead taking it straight to the White House, but he won't explain why he took this unusual action.